IRL Friends. Why are people such a disappointment?


The answer isn't them, it's you. 

When it comes to relationships, do you struggle to find the connection you hope for? Are you lonely but know a ton of people? Are you dissatisfied with your friendships, your marriage, maybe even your discontent has traveled into your parenting?
Can I assume that this has to do with believing ONLY what you see on social media? 

Sometimes when we scroll, our brains lie to us and tell us "I want that! They have that! I should have that too! Everyone else has that but me!" We become disillusioned with our real lives. Lives that require actual work, actual presence, and actual messes and struggles. None of that sounds fun, so you believe the lie that nobody has to do "real life" but you. Suddenly, that grass on your side of the fence is definitely a lackluster shade compared to everyone else.

True Statement: Your actual life has real potential. Not potential to become Instagram worthy but potential to be filled with satisfaction, enjoyment, connection, and purpose. When it comes to relationships, we often compare, compromise, and are ungrateful for our situation. If you can read this article, I promise you, your life is 1,000% better than you think.

How much time have you spent trying to find your tribe? How many times have you beaten yourself up thinking you've made a strong effort and there hasn't been a return on your endeavor? How much more time will you wish for an Instagram-worthy group of friends or a picture-perfect family to claim as your people? 

Sister, your time is more valuable than this. Let's maximize our time for good and minimize our time away from an ungrateful, comparing heart. You'll feel much more focused on what actually matters in life when you do this. 

True Statement: Nobody is perfect. Your friends and your family don't match the standards of your social scroll. Most of the social scroll isn't a true representation of anyone's actual life.

Let's start loving our actual life, okay? Here are 5 things you can do right now to quiet the voice in your head that says your friends aren't the right kind of tribe, your family isn't the right kind of people, and that there's got to be something better than this.

1. Change the Language and the Mindset

They say, "Find your people".

Here's the problem:

I'm heavily possessive and can take that quite literally.

The goal with that twisted encouragement becomes one of acquiring, owning, and being in charge of relationships.

I could lose proper perspective so easily if I titled friends and family "my people". I could (and I have) place unrealistic expectations on MY people. I could (and, yes, have) collect "my people" to fit within my criteria and easily dismiss them once they fall out of my preferences.

Tribes are great. Groups are fun. Reliable friendships are a comfort. But I won't ever mistake the blessing of relationships as something to own or achieve anymore.

So if you hear the phrase, "find your people" or the encouragement to "love on your people", resist that language and flip the script.

Find some people. Do life with some people. Let some people into your life; people who are different and are working through the awkward, persevering when it's not comfortable. Don't collect people or place their gift of friendship into a confined category.

2. Set Yourself and Others Free

Love - have grace. You aren't perfect and neither is your spouse, your kids, your neighbors, or your friends. Give them the same break you (should)  give yourself. The chance to be human. The chance to mess up, forget, misunderstand or even, hurt you.  

Love on God's people.

Set yourself (and some people) free from the expectation of achieving perfect *looking* relationships.

Opening up the opportunity for authenticity, depth, and longevity in your friendships begins with surrendering your coveting heart and ends with gratitude of the gift of companionship.

3. Deepen Friendships with Gratitude 

The main reason relationships can fall away due to dismissing someone for not being the perfect idea of a friend, spouse, or even relative. If you fight the urge to dismiss a person because of their shortcoming, you've made the first step to keeping them in your life even if it's not perfect. If you choose to have gratitude for that relationship and focus on the value a person is and can bring, you've just started the process of deepening your friendship with them.

his doesn't mean to place yourself in a dysfunctional situation or to lose yourself in a relationship. It only means giving a person a fighting chance to be the best that they actually are. Not the potential to mold themselves into your perfect idea of a friend, spouse or relative.

Gratitude looks like this. Being thankful for your small number of friends that you can count on. Being thankful that your spouse is helpful when you least expect it. Being thankful that your mother, in her own way, wants you to feel loved. Being thankful that you get to be the mother to those wild and crazy kids. Being thankful that people appreciate your help and you add value to their life. 
Your situation may never change, but you can find ways to be thankful for your situation. Let your shift in perspective allow you to find quality in your actual life over the quantity of a perceived lifestyle. 

4. Transactional Relationships are not true Friendships

You may be the kind of person that makes all the efforts. Goes to all the group functions. Helps any time there's a need. Yet, you still feel like you are missing a connection with people. You desire TRUE friendship but you feel like you are only good for helping others without getting anything in return.

It's not uncommon to feel this. Many of us feel under-appreciated for our efforts. May I suggest that you first check your motives?

If your helpfulness is ONLY to get something in return, you're playing the wrong game, my friend. You'll never find satisfaction in helping others if you are only looking for how it will ultimately help you. Until you can serve someone else and have no expectation of reciprocation, you'll miss out on the true joy of helping.

Real friendship is not transactional. You don't give to get and vice versa. Sometimes you give more than you get. This is the action of true love in relationships.

When you serve with a grateful heart, knowing that it's intended purpose is to lift someone else up, your service will become more intentional, focused, and joyful. 

Also, you won't feel taken advantage of and feel like you are 'wasting your time'.

Find ways to serve others with your gifts and talents knowing that you are truly helping them. This will help break you free from the transactional mindset of friendships. 

5. Perseverance Pays Off

This is the last and least important action because often we can persevere without doing the first 4 tips.

If we haven't changed our mindset about people, if we haven't set them free, if we aren't grateful, and we don't have transactional expectations, then persevering is just going to lead you back to where you started. 

Be ready to play the long game when it comes to cultivating friendships. Stay persistent. Keep showing up. Keep being a friend that you would want to be. (Just don't do it transactionally!)

Remember that true relationships are built over time, trust, and throughout the normal, everyday rhythms of life.



Donna Harris is a podcaster, wife and mother to three boys. Her Podcast, Constantly Under Construction, highlights guests and her own personal stories that will motivate and inspire you and deepen your desire to know your Creator.

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Jaime McLaughlin